Keeping Up with A Surprisingly Hot Housing Market
It’s been a roller coaster of a year by any measure. Now that we’re in the thick of autumn, one of the more surprising things we’re experiencing is the extremely hot housing market, which has driven up demand for windows and doors all across the country.
Here’s a quick breakdown from Zonda (formerly, Hanley Wood | Meyers Research):
At the onset of the pandemic and for the six weeks that followed, the housing market was crushed. However, home sales improved starting in May, and then took off in June. In August, new-home sales reached 1 million (seasonally adjusted annual rate) for the first time in over a decade, and the Meyers Research New Home Pending Sales Index hit cycle highs, with contract sales up 39% year over year.
There are a few key contributors here. Mortgage rates are at historic lows, driving down the cost of borrowing for homeowners. Millennials, who are either at or approaching the peak of their buying power, are leading the charge as first-time homebuyers. And, of course, most Americans are spending more time in their homes than ever before and are looking for more space to live and work.
This pace likely will carry into 2021, and many customers I’ve talked with recently are doing all they can to keep up with the rush. To find continued success into next year, here are a few things to keep in mind:
High performance for modern demands
Consumer expectations of what their windows can and should be continue to shift, and some of those expectations have been perhaps permanently altered by the pandemic.
For instance: While we won’t be stuck at home forever, there have already been some major, permanent changes in the remote work landscape. Companies like Microsoft have announced their intention to implement permanent “hybrid workplace” changes—and they won’t be the only ones. It could mean people spending more time in their homes permanently, and as such, they could be looking for new features. According to some leading architects, the blending of indoor and outdoor spaces will continue to be important for many homeowners and buyers, especially in light of aftershocks from the pandemic. Additionally, the need for more home office space—think “Zoom rooms”—could dampen the long-running “open concept” trend.
Wherever these trends take us, window and door manufacturers need to be ready with the high-performance products that are essential to meet consumer needs.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has had a massive impact on supply chains, availability of raw materials, labor forces, and other important factors that contribute to timely and reliable production. A hot new construction market adds another element to the mix, and I’ve talked to plenty of customers who have faced some challenges in trying to keep up with demand.
At a time like this, it’s worth taking stock of your relationships with your suppliers. Are you receiving the materials or components you need in a timely manner? Is your vendor listening to your specific needs and doing what they can to meet them? Transparency and collaboration are important during times like this; a vendor who’s able to work in step with your production needs will likely demonstrate both qualities.
After the initial hit our industry took in March and April, a hot housing market and significant demand for residential windows and doors is a welcome development. But capitalizing here will require some special and perhaps unprecedented considerations.